BOSTON (AP) — Seattle manager Scott Servais kept up the ruse on Friday night, denying that he saw Ichiro Suzuki in disguise in the Mariners dugout at Yankee Stadium.
And he mostly kept a straight face as he said it.
In a performance almost as transparent as the fake mustache and hoodie the former outfielder wore when he crashed the team’s bench, Servais said before Friday night’s game against the Red Sox, “I’ve got to keep a closer eye on my dugout.”
“Mustaches? I don’t know anybody that’s got a mustache,” Servais told chuckling reporters at Fenway Park a day after Suzuki was caught by an Associated Press photographer where he wasn’t supposed to be. “I don’t know who that is, but will definitely keep an eye out today.”
Suzuki, who is now in the Mariners front office, stretched with the team on Friday night and took batting practice before the series opener against the Red Sox. According to Major League Baseball rules, he isn’t allowed to be in the dugout during games.
The 44-year-old outfielder declined to comment when approached by the AP before Friday’s matchup.
Major League Baseball isn’t expected to impose any discipline, given Suzuki’s stature in the game and the fact that his prank was playful and harmless.
The disguise was reminiscent of New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who returned to the dugout in sunglasses and a fake mustache after he was ejected from a 1999 game. Valentine, who also managed the Red Sox, was suspended for two games and fined $5,000.
Suzuki usually spends the games in the clubhouse, but AP photographer Bill Kostroun spotted him with his face nearly covered by a fake mustache, sunglasses and a gray hoodie drawn tight over his head during in the first inning as the Yankees hit a pair of two-run homers.
He was gone by the second inning.
“Crazy,” Servais said. “Security is really tough in New York. So, surprised somebody slipped in.”
Suzuki had 3,089 hits in the major leagues before coming off the Seattle roster in early May, when he moved into the team’s front office as a special assistant to the chairman. The 10-time All-Star hasn’t officially retired, and there’s speculation he might play when the Mariners open the 2019 season in Tokyo.
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